021 – Secret Falls

Accessibility – Moderate+

Height: Approx 12′

Distance – 2.4 Miles (out and back)

Beauty – 6

Photo rating – 8

Solitude – 8


Last Updated: 04/01/2017

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Secret Falls is the second of five waterfalls along this section of the Horsepasture River. All are accessed from the same parking area in Gorges State park even though the waterfalls themselves are in Pisgah. Since you have to park in Gorges, I list them in the Gorges Section. Taken as a whole this ranks as my top waterfall hike in the area. The remainder of my top 10 list can be found here. I’m going to treat Stairway Falls, Secret Falls, Rainbow Falls, Turtleback Falls and Drift Falls as a single entity. The hike to Stairway Falls is the only one i’m going to start from the parking area. Each successive waterfall on the hike will begin at its predecessor so this will be a little different than my other entries.

After emerging from the trail Stairway Falls, make a left at the carsonite sign and continue on the Rainbow Falls Trail following orange blazes. After passing crossing another small creek the trail passes through an open area and a remote campsite. Maybe 10-15 minutes upriver of the campsite there is an obvious path leading to the river. The path empties onto a large rock that can be used to get a shot of Secret Falls. This section of the river is popular with fishermen so there are a lot of paths leading to someone’s favorite fishing hole.

Secret Falls drains into a small collection pool that likely doubles as a swimming hole in warmer weather. The hike is kid friendly but sections of it are steep and parts of the trail once you’re in Pisgah are eroded. Photographing Secret Falls can be done from the large flat stone immediately downriver. After getting a few shots, grab your gear. Our next stop is Rainbow Falls.

Hidden Falls – February 2014
Hidden Falls close up – February 2014